DISCLAIMER # 1: This story is an original work of fiction set in the pre-existing universe of Star Trek: Voyager. As such, many of the characters and references used within belong solely to Paramount Pictures. I have borrowed them for the purpose of creating this scenario and promise to return them unscathed, and smiling, as soon as I am done. No gain, monetary or otherwise, is expected from their use and no copyright infringement is intended or should be inferred.
DISCLAIMER # 2: All original characters and storylines contained herein belong to the author (Like anyone else would claim them! J ) This story may be archived upon request with the stipulation that it must be posted exactly as it was written, with all disclaimers intact.
DISCLAIMER # 3: This story depicts a romantic relationship between two women. It may be graphic, but it is lovingly so. If this kind of thing bothers you then wow, you are really visiting the wrong websites. If you are under 18, then please finish your homework before you read this, I would hate for your grades to suffer. If this is illegal where you live than please write me and let me know what the weather is like in your little redneck corner of the world.
WHO TO BLAME:Thanks must go out to Ky, who continues on her tireless campaign to make me recognize that this – is more than a minus sign. Thanks also to Andrea and Shawn for keeping my beta heart beating. Thanks to The Janeway/Seven Faction, The Voyager Conspiracy, Ralst, Sazzy and the multitudes of mailing lists I have found myself on. And thanks to GL Dartt… Just Because…
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This story is dedicated to Kristen, as always. This is my first Post Endgame endeavor and it takes place about three months after Voyager has returned to Earth. If you are a fan of Chuckles, then this probably isn't the story for you. A tip of the pen must go to WoW, for supplying a name when I couldn't think of one. No Borg implants were mangled during the writing of this story however I will have to give Seven a complete physical to ensure that she is in good health.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.


The Sum of Her Parts
What Comes After… Part I

By Patricia L. Givens


So huge, so hopeless to conceive,
    As these that twice befell.
Parting is all we know of heaven,
    And all we need of hell.

-Emily Dickinson


Chapter One: Trading Thoughts

Admiral Kathryn Janeway sat down at her desk, one hand holding a cup of steaming hot coffee and the other filled with a multitude of PADDs. She sighed heavily as she laid them out before her. Reports. It seemed her life lately was nothing more than an endless stream of reports, both to read and to be submitted.

She flexed her shoulders, trying to get the new uniform to sit correctly upon them. It seemed thicker, more restrictive than the one she had spent seven long years sliding into every morning. The colors were nice though. She ran a finger under her collar, accidentally brushing across her new insignia in the process. Admiral. It had only been three months since Voyager's return and they had already made her an Admiral. Daddy would have been proud.

Her desk PADD chirped and she looked down, smiling when she realized who the message was from. Eagerly she keyed the control and her smile widened at the beautiful image that filled the screen

"Captain." Seven of Nine looked up at her, the corners of her mouth upturned in the barest of smiles. "Or should I say, Admiral. Congratulations on your promotion. I regret not having been at the ceremony. Chakotay sends his regards and his regrets as well. Our 'settling in' here on his home world has taken much of our attention over the past three months."

Janeway frowned to herself. She didn't want to hear about Chakotay.

"It has been… interesting. His family is very welcoming, although I do find that they watch me closely, especially when they think that I am unaware of their scrutiny. I am unsure as to their motives. Chakotay says that they are merely interested in my uniqueness. Personally I find it vaguely unsettling but as I do not wish to make him uncomfortable, I do not address the situation."

"The house is acceptable. Starfleet was kind enough to allow us the use of one of my alcoves. It has been successfully installed in one of the back bedrooms. Occasionally, when my regeneration cycle ends, I open my eyes expecting to find myself still in Cargo Bay Two. For a moment I feel very alone and somewhat saddened that you are not there. Chakotay says that I miss you and that it is natural after all the time we shared in each other's company. I find his statement to have merit. I do miss your company and our many conversations. In truth, I miss our arguments as well. It is difficult to locate an individual with which to engage in such discourse." Her eyes seemed to sparkle with mirth. "They usually just smile and go to speak with the Commander, wanting to know why I am so stubborn about some things. I find that no one matches you in your appetite for disputes." Her amusement subsided. "I am still uncertain as to what I will occupy my time with here. This world has little to offer in the way of scientific endeavors and I find myself often wondering how I will manage to fill my days."

Janeway grimaced, not wanting to think about how she was occupying her nights. Or who she was occupying them with.

"But after the extensive debriefings and long winded meetings I was forced to endure upon our arrival from the Delta Quadrant, I find the peacefulness of it at least slightly enjoyable. How long that enjoyment will continue, I do not know. I do know that you are busy and I will not make this missive a long one. I merely wished to tell you that I am well and that I was thinking of you. Please respond and inform me as to your own status and current situation. I look forward to hearing from you."

The screen went dark and the Admiral sat silently, contemplating the former Borg's words. After severing her from the Collective several years earlier and making her a member of her crew, Seven had continued to blossom into the human she was always meant to be. It was a small consolation. She had always assumed it would be her that would continue to guide the former drone through her existence on Earth. When she had chosen to return with Chakotay to his home world, the blow had struck hard.

Did you ever ask her to stay? Her little voice asked snidely. Was she just supposed to guess that you wanted her around?

She considered Seven's choice of words. That her situation was merely 'interesting' and her continued use of Chakotay's title, even though he had resigned from Starfleet almost as soon as his feet hit the ground. While there was nothing negative in the message as a whole, the use of those words set off alarm klaxons in her brain.

Wishful thinking again, Katie.

She straightened her jacket again and ran her fingers through her hair, pushing a few errant strands back into place before hitting the reply command.

"Seven! I cannot tell you how wonderful it was to get your message. I have thought of you often over the last three months and I have been wondering how you are fairing. Starfleet Command has been keeping me busy. They have me working on categorizing all of the data we collected during what they term, my Delta Quadrant vacation. Personally, I think they are just trying to keep me focused while Voyager undergoes her retrofit. I think they assume that I will grow into my desk position and leave the actual exploration to the young people they have running around with quad pips these days. They are sorely mistaken. I fully intend to retake command of my vessel when she is again space worthy; even if I have to step down to do so. Truth be told, I never really wanted the promotion in the first place, so it is probably better that you did miss the ceremony. You would have only brought that fact to the attention of everyone present at the least opportune time"

She smiled broadly, enjoying the teasing she had missed so much since Seven had been gone. "My house in San Francisco is much as I left it, with the pleasant addition of several of Pheobe's artworks, the ones she couldn't bear to sell. I was toying with the idea of getting a dog; the house seems so big and empty with just me there. But then I realized that I would just have to leave her with Mother when I returned to space and I talked myself out of the idea. Guess I will just have to remain lonely a bit longer."

She toyed briefly with the idea of deleting that last sentence and decided to leave it. Maybe Seven would read between the lines and understand what she was trying to say without her having to say it. Wasn't that the way they had always communicated in the past?

Yeah, and where did that get you? Alone and missing her desperately!

"Starfleet has undergone major changes since we were gone. They're still trying to rebuild after the war and I find myself surrounded by children playing soldier. They are earnest and they mean well, but what I wouldn't give to have my own crew around me again. Certain members of that crew in particular. I do have to admit though, the coffee has gotten better." She smiled and took a long drink. "I was wondering if you were ever going to be able to find time to come for a visit. There are still so many places I would like to show you, and I haven't forgotten my promise to take you home to Indiana Mother was looking forward to meeting you and I can only imagine the fun that Pheobe would have at your expense. Maybe your missing that part is not such a bad thing!"

"They're going to be upgrading Voyager's propulsion and weapons. They're also studying the ablative armor that the 'other' admiral was so kind to lend us. You cannot even imagine the amount of tap dancing I had to do when the debriefings took a turn in that direction. I think if they had had a way to hold me responsible for it they just might have done so. Three cheers for the Federation still being behind in that regard."

"The only really hard part of the debriefings came in regards to the Equinox. Explaining myself for the actions I took at that time was not the easiest thing to do. Most of the crew's testimonies about the circumstances were very helpful to my cause, but I know the board was still uneasy about how quickly that situation went out of control." She did not mention that the most damning testimony came from her own First Officer. That was one position she would not put Seven in. Besides, he had merely told the truth, as he saw it anyway. "In the end they categorized it as an anomaly in my service record. They simply do not have enough seasoned Fleet personnel to throw me away due to one circumstance, even if they did not agree wholly with how I handled it. They recognized that they were not there and speculating about how they would have handled it differently does not provide what could be considered a viable alternative."

"Anyway, enough about all that. I want to hear more about you and your new life." She swallowed, hard. "Oh, and by the way. I'm not your Captain anymore and hearing the word 'Admiral' coming from you seems in some way unfitting. How about you just call me Kathryn? I think, with everything we have been through together, we've both earned it. I look forward to sharing further correspondence with you. I will talk with you soon."

Janeway sat back and smiled as she sent the letter on its way before turning back to the reports scattered about her desk. They didn't seem so bad anymore.

The Admiral woke slowly, stretching languidly in her bed as sleep slowly receded. She wasn't used to having days off from work, but it was a turn of events that she was beginning to enjoy.

She stumbled out of bed and headed for her kitchen, bypassing the refrigerator and throwing a disdainful look at the stove as she walked straight to the replicator to order a whole pot of coffee to begin her day. Taking the pot and a cup over to her desk she was thrilled to see another message from Seven. They had been sending letters back and forth almost daily for three weeks now but she was still delighted whenever she found one waiting for her. She poured herself a cup of joe and activated the screen.

"Kathryn." Seven's voice felt like a caress when she said her name. "I trust that this missive finds you well. I am currently at a hotel in the main city. I decided that I would explore this world while the Commander is away with several family members on a spiritual retreat. Unfortunately, it appears that there is little to see. I have expressed a desire to travel off world, to come and visit you, but Chakotay has stated that he is not comfortable with me going alone. I am unsure what he believes will happen to me, but I will respect his request to refrain from such activity for the time being. Instead I find myself utilizing this time for reflection about the events that occurred in the Delta Quadrant. Do you recall the conversations we engaged in regarding exploration?"

Janeway smiled. She didn't remember conversations. She remembered arguments.

"I have decided that I was in error. I find that I miss your desire to examine the unknown. While I still maintain that such behavior was not conducive to returning Voyager more quickly to Earth, I now also recognize that it is necessary for the mind to continue to grow and flourish." She paused, as if deciding whether or not to say something. "I find that I miss many things about our journey on Voyager. I miss our collective, our family. I miss knowing that I was surrounded by people who may not understand me, but who accepted me... eventually."

Janeway laughed.

"Mostly I find… that I miss you." She took a deep breath. "I am unsure how to put into words how it feels when I see a message waiting for me and it is from you. It makes me think about how much I would rather be saying these things to you in person, sitting on the couch in your quarters or standing before your desk in your ready room. Being in your presence was always a very… exhilarating experience. As Borg, little nuances meant nothing. There was nothing that need be said as everything was already known and the smaller aspects of conversation were deemed irrelevant. Now I find myself wondering if you still wear the same perfume. I can still recall the exact fragrance of it."

She choked on a mouthful of coffee. Was Seven… flirting with her?

"I can close my eyes and my eidetic memory will show me exactly how you looked the last time I saw you, with the wind slightly ruffling your hair and the smile on your face when we first set foot in Starfleet Headquarters. But even though the recollection is perfect in every detail, it does not compare with standing next to you. It does not convey the warmth and the strength you gave me when you took my arm to alleviate my tension. When you whispered 'I'm here with you. I won't let go.', I knew that you would not and that made me feel… safe. In truth, most of my pleasant memories of feeling anything center around you. You never made me feel different, alien. You made me feel as though I was home. That is something I have also missed in your absence."

Janeway reached out and touched the screen, allowing her fingers to trail along the proud jaw line as she had wanted to do so often in the past.

"I have always wanted to tell you these things, but I did not know how to put them into words. I find it much easier to do so in this letter, although why that would be is something I cannot seem to fathom. I wonder if you think of me as often as I think of you and, if you do, exactly what your thoughts are. When I was a member of your crew, it was inappropriate to inquire about such things. But I am no longer a member of your crew." This last was said with such a seductive tone that the Admiral found herself breathing erratically. "Will you tell me now? Will you share with me all the things you might have said during our journey but did not because protocol disallowed it? Would you allow me to truly know you now?"

The Borg blinked and seemed slightly embarrassed. "I wanted to say something else as well… I think that you look very handsome in your new uniform. Red will always be your color."

The screen went dark and she resisted the urge to pick up the PADD and shake it, as though to try and dislodge some part of the missive that had not been provided. Taking a long drink of her coffee, she shook her hair into place and, feeling slightly foolish, loosened her robe, allowing it to fall open, showing the nightgown beneath.

"Seven," She began her reply. "I want you to know how much I have missed you as well. Our conversations were always something I truly treasured and I can say, in all honesty, that not being able to continue them has left a profoundly empty spot in my life. You always knew just the right buttons to push at just the right times to make me be honest. I am thrilled to see you haven't lost your touch."

"As for what I might have said, you are going to need to narrow that field down quite a bit if you expect a cohesive answer. There are so many thoughts that I kept to myself, so many observations about both of us that I refused to say that to try and share them all now would be a huge undertaking. How about you ask whatever questions you might have and I promise to answer them honestly? This isn't an offer I have ever made to anyone else, but I trust that you will keep my answers in confidence. I have many questions of my own. Would it make you uncomfortable for me to ask them now? And I understand how it could be easier to have this conversation through our correspondence. I am sure some of my questions will be the sort that I would never ask out loud." She rested her chin in her hand. "I have come to the realization that you had as great an impact on me as I did on you during our time together. I get the feeling that isn't about to change now that we're back home. I only wish you were not so far away. I also do not understand Chakotay's request for you not to travel off world. If it will make him feel better I am sure I can arrange an escort for you. I believe I know an Admiral that has a bit of pull at Fleet Headquarters." She smiled. "Nothing would make me happier than having you here, if you would be so inclined. Let me know what you think. I'll talk to you soon. Oh and, Seven? My first question: What was the fragrance?"

A part of her regretted that the recordings did not allow her to include a closing endearment. But then, maybe that was a good thing. Downing the rest of her coffee, she went to get dressed.

Janeway spent the day happily strolling through the wharf, checking out places that she would take Seven when she finally arrived for a visit. There were several restaurants that she thought the younger woman would enjoy, as well as the museums and parks that San Francisco had an abundance of. She stopped off in the Market District on her way home and picked up some dinner, along with several bottles of wine, her own reserve having been long since picked over by her sister when she was staying at the house.

When she got back home, she turned on the lights and sighed. The house still seemed so empty, even after her being there for several months. She spread her meal out on the dining room table and opened a bottle of wine. She had just started eating when the computer on her desk chirped.

She jumped up quickly, amusing herself with her own eagerness and was happy to see she was not going to be disappointed. It was from Seven. She laid the PADD next to her plate and activated it, taking a bite of her fettuccine as she waited for it to load.

When it finally did, she choked, almost spitting the food out across the screen.

Seven looked at her with azure blue eyes, her hair flowing loosely about her shoulders, which were barely covered with a nightgown of her own. It dipped low in the front, demurely showing just a hint of the soft swells beneath it.

"Kathryn. I know we usually only correspond once a day, but I found your invitation too enticing to ignore until tomorrow. I find the idea of your answering any question I might have honestly to be very appealing. My only quandary is where to start." She smirked slightly. "I believe my first question will have to be: have I ever disappointed you? I know that seems like an odd inquiry, but it is one that often troubled my thoughts when I was still on Voyager. It disturbs me greatly to think that I might have. After that, my questions become more personal in nature. When we were in the Delta Quadrant, I noticed that you had a propensity to touch me, much more so than the rest of the crew. I would like to know if that was something I imagined or if it was truly the case. And if it was, why? I would also like to know why you endangered yourself and Voyager by coming to rescue me from the Queen. I know what you said at the time. That you would never leave a member of your crew behind, but I found that explanation… lacking somehow. I wish to know the full reasons behind why you did what you did. Also, you shared so many things with me back then, things that you did not readily share with other members of the crew. Your Da Vinci holoprogram for example. You allowed me more than entrance into your personal retreat; you let me know that I was welcome there. Why?"

Seven paused, taking several breaths before she continued. "What was I to you, Kathryn? I overheard many members of the crew speaking of me as though I was a 'project' for you, something to occupy your time, and for some reason, that thought disturbs me greatly. Your attention was always something I appreciated. Now I would like to know the reasons behind it. Were they simply, as you stated at the time, the desire to help me embrace my humanity? Or were there other factors involved that you could not share with me? There were so many moments when it seemed as though there was something else you wanted to say but you refrained. What was it you were keeping from me? I await your response with what I can only deem as anticipation. Until then." Seven reached out to end the recording and then stopped, holding her hand still as her eyes took on such a smoldering look that she though she would be implode. "Oh, and Kathryn? Lavender."

Janeway was stunned. She supposed on some level she shouldn't be. The Borg's honesty was something she had always known and relied on. But to have those questions thrown out on the table all at the same time… well… it was a little overwhelming. She decided that she would need a lot more wine before she could even begin to answer them.

Two hours later, she sat in her nightgown, staring at her data PADD. Do I really have the courage to do this? There won't be any way to go back… Then she realized that there already wasn't any way to go back. If Seven was asking these questions then she had noticed all the things that she had thought she hid so well. Steeling herself with a quick draught of whiskey, she activated the recording.

"Seven, I find all of your questions rather unsettling for many reasons. But none so much as your very first. I want you to know that you have never, NEVER disappointed me. If anything, you have always delighted and surprised me with your behavior and your candor. I know at times we disagreed about things, but that is to be expected in a close relationship. The very fact that you were not afraid to voice your objections to my actions was something that I always found very attractive about you, on many different levels. Please know and believe that."

She took another drink. "Now about your other questions… In regards to touching you, I want to apologize if I ever made you feel uncomfortable by my actions. To answer your question honestly, there were times that I was unaware that I was even behaving in that manner. But then, there were also times when I wanted to touch you. Very much. Times when I wanted to soothe away the hurt you were feeling or share in the joy. Then there were times when I simply wanted contact with you. I think I was unsure as to my own reasons for doing it. But over the years I came to realize that you were always more to me than just a member of my crew or simply a friend and I began to hope that I was more to you than just a Captain and a mentor."

"When you were taken by the Borg Queen… I was very angry. I didn't believe for a moment that you truly wished to stay with the Borg. I knew that your actions were motivated by a desire to keep Voyager safe. While I respected that immeasurably, I was not about to let her have you. Can you understand that? The idea of her changing you back to what you had been, the thought that I would never again know the wonderful creature that you are… it was unacceptable. Even the short time you were gone left an emptiness inside of me that I couldn't rationalize away. All I knew was that I had to get you back. I didn't allow myself to scrutinize my reasons much beyond that."

"About allowing you into my personal spaces… all I can say is, I wanted you there. I still do."

"What were you to me? You were, and still are, the most fascinating woman I have ever known. In you I see a purity of spirit that I have always found irresistible. I feel drawn to you. I feel as though, with you, I could always truly be myself and you would never judge me or think badly of me. I wanted to share everything with you, and that has not diminished in the time we have been apart. And you are right. All those times I walked away, all those times I left our conversations unfinished… there was something more I wanted to say. I still want to say it now. But not like this. Not through a vid message. Come and visit me. Come and stay with me here in San Francisco and I will answer that question in person."

She ended the recording and paused, her finger over the send button. Finally, she took a deep breath and hit send.

The next morning, Kathryn rose and showered. She made herself get dressed and straighten up before she went to check her data PADD. It was there.

Swallowing back her panic, she sat down, trying to will herself to breathe. Finally, she reached out and activated the control, losing her breath again the moment she did so. Seven appeared, her eyes were bright and there was an actual smile on her lips. Not the little smiles she was used to, but a full out grin that showed her perfect white teeth.

"Kathryn." Seven practically purred. "I wanted to let you know that I accept your invitation. I have begun to make travel arrangements and will inform the Commander of my impending absence when he returns this morning. I have found your answers very gratifying and… pleasing… in a way I did not wholly expect. I look forward to the conversations we will have when I arrive. I expect to be there by the day after tomorrow. Will that give you enough time to…" Seven looked off screen as though something had startled her. "I am sorry, Kathryn. I have to go. I will send you another missive shortly."

Janeway was surprised by the interruption and she waited by the PADD for over an hour but nothing further arrived. She recorded a brief message, asking if everything was ok and sent it, but that didn't receive a response either.

Agitated, she decided to go out for a walk to try and calm herself down. When she returned several hours later, she was dismayed to find there were still no messages for her.

She drafted one last message, stating that she was concerned and for Seven to contact her as soon as possible.

Having done everything she could think of to do, she sat back and began to wait.

"I don't care, Eva!" Janeway snapped at her assistant. "He can call until he's blue in the face. I don't have any desire to talk to the man!"

Eva looked at her in surprise, her face cringing at the unexpected ferocity.

Janeway relented when she saw she had scared the poor girl. "I'm sorry, Eva. It isn't you. I just have a lot of things on my mind and the last thing I want to do is talk to Mark Johnson."

It had been a full week since she had heard from Seven. Her arrival date had come and gone without so much as a peep from the woman. Instead, she had to deal with numerous calls from her ex fiancé wanting to talk over old times or god only knew what and she just wasn't interested in the slightest.

"If he calls again just tell him that I will be busy for the foreseeable future but that you'll make sure I get the messages, ok? Then throw them out."

Eva nodded and backed out of the room. She didn't know what had her boss in a bear of a mood but she was certainly not going to ask her about it. In all the time she had worked for the Admiral, she had always been pleasant and courteous. So whatever it was, it must be huge.

Janeway sat back in her chair and brooded. Could Seven have changed her mind? Decided that she didn't really care to know the answer to her question?

Chastising herself for allowing her personal issues to affect her at work, she picked up several PADDs and began to go over them, making corrections and adding information as was needed.

It was a great shock to her when the door to her office was thrown forcibly open a few hours later.

Even more of a shock was who came through it.

Chakotay stood before her, a look of rage on his face.

"I'm sorry, Admiral. He just barged in." Eva explained from behind the man.

"It's all right. I'll deal with it."

The young woman gave Chakotay one last look and then closed the door behind her.

"Where is she?" he growled.

"I beg your pardon?"

"Don't play games with me, Kathryn, I know she's here. Where is she?"

"I'm going to assume your talking about Seven, but I can assure you she isn't here. While I can see that you're upset, that does not explain why you felt the need to burst in here unannounced and disrupt my staff." Janeway felt her temper rising. "Do you want to explain yourself?"

"I don't answer to you anymore."

"No, you don't." She countered. "But you are in my office uninvited so I think that entitles me to an answer."

He laughed bitterly. "What don't you think you're entitled to?" He towered over her desk menacingly. "I watched your message vids. I know she was coming here. I want to see her, NOW."

The Admiral stood and came around the desk, raising herself to her full height as she stood toe to toe with him. "You watched our vids?" Her voice was at its lowest register and her glare would have melted a seasoned Starfleet officer into a puddle on the spot. She was gratified to notice that it still worked.

Chakotay backed down a little. "Yes I did. It was my right. She's my girlfriend."

"She isn't your property, Chakotay. And you had no right to go through our personal messages. What the hell is wrong with you?"

"I need to see her. I need to explain…"

"Explain what?"

He blanched somewhat. "That's between me and her. Tell me where she is."

"You've obviously not been listening. She isn't here. I haven't heard from her in over a week."

Chakotay slumped into a chair. "I was sure she would come here. She was talking about coming here…"

"She was supposed to." Janeway clamped down on her anger and sat on the edge of her desk. "She was supposed to arrive for a visit several days ago. Are you telling me she hasn't been with you?"

"No. She left a week ago. We had an argument and she left."

The Admiral felt a tendril of fear travel up her spine.

"I'm sorry, Kathryn. I thought she would be here. This is why I told her I didn't want her traveling alone. God only knows what could have happened to her. We need to find her!"

"Agreed." She went back to her desk and accessed her vidphone.

"What are you doing?"

"Calling a friend." She waited as the call was put through, relieved when Tuvok's face appeared on the screen.

"Admiral." His tone conveyed as much pleasure as it ever had. "This is a surprise."

"Hello, old friend. I'm sorry to call you at home. I know you wanted to take a few years off to spend with your family. But I find myself in desperate need of your help."

"My help is always yours for the asking. What troubles you?"

Janeway explained the situation to him and he assured her that he would begin an investigation immediately. As he was only officially on leave, not actually resigned from Starfleet, he could utilize many of his vast intelligence connections to further his inquiries.

"I will contact you shortly."

Chakotay looked at her expectantly. "Now what?"

"Now you go and contact B'Elanna and Harry. See if they've heard from her. I'll contact the Doctor. He's over at Starfleet medical and should be easy enough for me to get a hold of."

"I'll get started." He paused, dropping his gaze. "I'm sorry for the way I acted."

She put up her hand. "You were concerned about Seven. I do understand. But I recommend that if you wish to see me in the future you use a little more restraint in your methods."


After he left Janeway went and stood at her window overlooking the grounds of Starfleet Headquarters.

"Where are you, Seven?" She whispered, feeling a dark fear start to take hold of her heart.


Chapter Two: An Unexpected Alliance

Admiral Janeway entered Starfleet Medical quietly, waving away the offers of an escort as she made her way to the Experimental Wing. As she walked, she was aware of the people who stopped and openly stared at her or called others over to watch her pass by. It was something she still hadn't gotten used to, the fawning adoration for her newly promoted and well decorated persona, but she was able to ignore it, mostly.

As she neared her destination, she could hear a rather heated argument that was going on between the Doctor and another individual. Her arrival stopped it cold as the ensign in his company dropped his jaw momentarily before standing stiffly at attention.

"At ease." She tried hard not to roll her eyes. "This isn't an inspection, just a friendly visit. Doctor!" She went to him and wrapped him up in warm hug, knowing that it would raise his worth to all those watching.

"Admiral." He said with genuine affection. "How are you?"

"I've been better. I'm sorry I haven't made it over here to see you before now, but Starfleet has really been keeping me busy." She threw a level three glare at the ensign and the poor boy fell all over himself as he quickly left the room. "I need your help."

"Of course." He led her to his office. "What's going on?"

"Seven is missing."

A myriad of emotions crossed over his features, finally settling on one of deep concern. "When did this happen?"

"About a week ago. According to Chakotay she was on her way here to see me, but she never arrived. I was hoping that you had heard from her."

"I haven't." He sat down heavily, and interesting feat for a hologram. "This could be very bad."

"My thought's exactly. How long can she go without regenerating before the damage would be severe?"

"Optimally, she should regenerate eight hours out of every seventy two. If she regenerated right before she disappeared and if she eats properly and sleeps, she can go eight days…maybe nine before the damage becomes extensive. After that time, I don't know that I would be able to help her. Her Borg components might become too badly degraded."

"That's what I was afraid of." She felt the fear twist in her stomach. "I have Tuvok using his connections to try and find some trace of her. I can't do much more until I hear back from him,"

"How is it no one knew she was missing for an entire week?"

"I thought she was with Chakotay. Chakotay thought she was with me. It's a long story, Doctor. I'll fill you in later, ok?"

"Very well." He grabbed her lightly by the arm as she stood to go. "When you do find out where she is, I want to go with you. If anyone could help Seven, it would be me."

Janeway smiled at him and squeezed his hand. "I'll let you know."

When she got back to her office, there was a message waiting for her from Tuvok. It was short and to the point.

"Admiral, I have gathered some information that will lead us to a location to begin our search. I know I am not being presumptuous in assuming that you will be accompanying me. I will meet you at Flight Base Ten at 1800 hours. I would recommend arranging leave for yourself. I have already procured a ship."

Janeway didn't hesitate. She contacted Admiral Necheyev and informed her that she would be gone for at least a week, possibly longer, and then headed for home to pack.

At 1800 hours Janeway was waiting impatiently at Flight Base Ten, a Starfleet travel bag over her shoulder, dressed in black cargo pants and a black turtleneck sweater. She wasn't sure what to expect, but she wasn't going into anything flying her Starfleet colors, not at this point.

"Admiral." Tuvok greeted her as he walked up behind her. "I trust you are ready to go?"

"I'm ready. Where are we going?"

"I would prefer to wait until we're aboard, that way I can fill everyone in at once."


He didn't answer her so she followed him out onto the tarmac, past several different vessels until he came to a sleek, mid sized transport with the name Venture painted proudly on the side. Right next to what she could only surmise was the image of a pin up girl from the late 1950's. She looked at Tuvok curiously but he merely led her aboard.

When they reached the bridge, all her questions were answered.

"Admiral!" Tom Paris sprang up from the pilot's chair and greeted her with a hug. "Long time no see."

"Tom!" She said in surprise. "What are you doing here?"

"You didn't think I would let you go on this little adventure without your best pilot did you?"

"And B'Elanna doesn't have a problem with this?"

"Why would she?" A voice asked from behind her. She turned to see her former Chief Engineer smiling up at her from the floor, where she had a compartment open to tinker on the sensor relays.

"B'Elanna!" Janeway was overwhelmed. "Where's Miral?"

"Staying with her Grandfather." Tom grinned. "He said he wanted more time with her. We'll see if he still feels the same way when we get back."

"How did you arrange all this? And where did you get this boat?"

"This little baby was a wedding gift from my father. Warp six capable, state of the art hyper beam laser banks, full complement of photon torpedoes with a class A launch bay, standard transporter capabilities and four crew cabins complete with replicators."

"What's all this for? Family trips to the demilitarized zone?"

Tom laughed. "Dad likes to travel in style. He also arranged leave for me and B'Elanna..."

"Once we told him we'd be going whether he liked it or not." The Klingon finished.

"I don't mean to sound ungrateful, but why would you do all this?"

B'Elanna climbed to her feet and placed a hand on her arm. "Seven is family, Admiral. Just because we don't always get along doesn't mean we don't take care of our own."

Janeway only nodded, not trusting herself to speak.

"The Doc is finishing up his calibration of Seven's alcove. It's installed in the largest cabin, all the way in the back of the ship. You might want to lay claim to it fast. Chakotay should be here in a few minutes."

"I'll do that. But there is one other thing."

They all looked at her expectantly.

"This isn't a Starfleet mission. We're all here, on our own time, risking our own skins for our own reasons. That being said, Admiral seems a bit more formal than I'm comfortable with. So I'll give you a choice, you can either call me Captain, or you can call me Kathryn."

"Aye, Captain." Tom grinned. "I've really missed saying that to you."

Janeway smiled at him fondly before leaving the bridge. The Venture wasn't small, but it wasn't exactly a luxury liner either. The cabin that was to be hers was only half the size of her quarters on Voyager, with a quaint outer room and a tiny bedroom. She was surprised to find the alcove being installed in the latter.


He stood up from his work and smiled at her. "There you are. I figured you would be the one to take this room. I hope you don't mind that I installed the alcove in the bedchamber. I thought it would… simplify things."

"I see." She didn't ask exactly what he was trying to simplify, deciding that she didn't really want to know. "It looks downright cozy."

She let him get back to the alcove as she went about unpacking her bag. She was almost finished when she heard loud voices in the outer room.

"She wants this cabin, Chakotay. She is the senior officer."

"I don't give a damn." She heard his voice rising. "This isn't Voyager. Her word isn't law anymore."

"It is on my boat." Tom growled.

"Is there a problem, gentlemen?" She stood in the doorway, her hands on her hips and a frown on her face.

Chakotay glowered at her. "There won't be once you pack your things and move to a different cabin."

"Well," She walked towards him slowly, her lips pursed. "You can pretty much rest assured that that is not going to happen. These are my quarters and I believe we've already had a conversation about you barging in without announcing yourself."

"I should have the room with Seven's alcove." He persisted.

"Your opinion has been duly noted. Now… get out."

He stood his ground for a few moments more then threw an angry look at her before shoving Tom aside to walk out the door.

"What the hell was that about?" The helmsman looked at her in confusion.

"Pissing contest." Janeway said quietly. "I don't expect it to get much better."

"Well, if it doesn't, I can always have B'Elanna encrypt his door locks. That would keep him out of your hair."

"That won't be necessary." She laughed. "However, if you could have your wife come down here and encrypt mine, I know I would feel a whole lot better about it."

"Consider it done."

When he had gone, she sighed, deeply troubled by the actions of her former First Officer. Replicating herself a cup of coffee, she sipped at it quietly until Tuvok's voice came over the conn.

"We are ready to launch, Captain. Would you and the doctor please come to the bridge."

Janeway set her mug down on the counter and went to join her crew, the Doctor following behind her.

When they were all assembled, Tuvok shared what little information he had.

"Seven was last seen on Mars. She stopped at the civilian spaceport to refuel before continuing on her journey to Earth. I believe that our search must start there. I have a contact in the Mars Civilian Security Force who will allow us to review the footage from their security cameras. Mr. Paris, what is our ETA?"

"It's a short trip." He set their course into the computer. "Shouldn't take more than an hour and a half."

"Very well. I highly recommend that we all take the Captain's example and change out of our uniforms. If we are to be successful in our attempts to gather intel, I can only assume that it would be more advantageous if we were perceived to be civilians."

"Agreed." Janeway nodded. "This is one time that being recognizable is not going to help."

"That should make it pretty difficult for you, Captain." B'Elanna pointed out. "Your face has been plastered on every news vid for the last four months. I hate to say it, but I think it might be better if you stayed on the ship, at least at first."

Reluctantly, she agreed. After they reviewed the footage, she would return to the ship while Tuvok and B'Elanna followed up any initial leads. She knew it was the wisest course of action, but that didn't mean she had to like it.

Seven of Nine opened her eyes slowly. The light was very bright and she had to blink several times before she could see her surroundings clearly. She was in some kind of medical bay, being held to an examination table by metal restraints on her wrists and ankles. She pulled at them quietly, trying to test their strength. The slight movement made her head swim and she looked down, seeing a six inch gash between the first and second bands of her abdominal implant. An injury she had sustained when they had tried to remove her from her cell. Her nanoprobes were already working to repair the damage, but they were operating sluggishly and the pain was intense.

"How is my patient today?" A chipper voice asked as a large, dark form blocked out much of the light.

"I am not your patient." She growled. "I am your hostage."

"Now, now," The voice admonished her. "Hostage is such an ugly word. One that isn't accurate in any case. Hostage implies that you are being held in anticipation of a beneficial trade with another party. We are not interested in trading you for anything. No one is coming for you. It is in your best interest to do as you are told."

"What exactly is it that you want? I have been here for days and I have yet to learn what you expect from me."

"Well, that's why I'm here, to tell you." He stepped back slightly and she was finally able to make out his features. He was a large biped, massing 300 kilos easily. His body was covered in armor plating with three red crescents over his left breast. His face was hairless and he had two large tusks protruding from his lower jaw. "My name is Kiir. I am the chief medic of The Mark of the Kil'Jaeden. You are here because you possess many traits that we admire. Traits that we wish to possess ourselves."

"What traits?"

"Your strength for one, in addition to your ability to fight and to regenerate from damage." He prodded at her wound, making her flinch. "Already the laceration is closing. Fascinating."

"Those are not traits. If you had any intelligence you would know that they are the remnants of my having been Borg."

"Oh we're well aware of your history. We've been following your activities quite closely since you returned from the Delta Quadrant."

"Then you know that I cannot share these things with you. They are not something that can be taught."

"No, they can't be taught. But they can be shared." He took an instrument and prodded at her hand implant, causing her assimilation tubules to extend. "All you have to do is use these."

Seven's face contorted. "You are insane! You will become Borg!"

"There are many things about the Borg that we admire. We are well aware that you can create a mini collective, linking us only to each other, and not to the main hive mind. That is what we wish."


"Imagine an army that could think as one, move as one, strike as one, without argument, without confusion. It would be perfect."

"I do not have to imagine it. I was a part of it. And I refuse to do as you ask."

"I would think carefully before you refuse us." He brushed her face softly, almost lovingly with his fingertips. "If you refuse, then our only remaining course of action will be to dissect you. To take you apart piece by piece and see what information we can glean from what is left." He stepped back. "We are warriors, Seven of Nine. The most deadly you will ever encounter. We require your help to perfect us. You will either give that help willingly… or we will take it. You have twelve hours to decide. Think carefully."

He left her to her thoughts, turning out the lights as he went.

Seven lay in the darkness, feeling the sharp edges of panic creeping up on her. Was it just a week ago that she had been trading messages with Kathryn? That she had felt hope for a future that she had never before dreamed possible?

"Kathryn…" She whispered softly. "I need you."

Janeway felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand up, startling her. She leaned forward in her chair, a frown on her face.

"Captain?" Tuvok was looking at her from his place at the aft defense console. "Are you all right?"

Slowly she nodded. "Yes. I'm fine. I think someone just walked over my grave. How long until we arrive?"

"Twenty minutes." Tom's glanced back at her. "I've already got docking clearance."

"Good." She stared silently out the front viewport, trying to control the feeling of panic that had come over her. She was not used to feeling that emotion and it unsettled her greatly.

When they finally docked, Tom and the Doctor remained on board while the four of them headed to the MCSF office. Tuvok's friend met them at the outer doors, leading them to a small room set up with multiple monitors. They spent several hours watching the surveillance videos until Janeway finally spotted the familiar blue-gray jumpsuit.

"There she is." They centered in on that one camera, watching as Seven was accosted outside of a mercantile. She was surrounded by more than ten individuals and seemed to give up without a fight, being led away to a docking port that was off camera.

"Go home." The security officer said quietly. "Your friend is lost. Go home before you end up dead too."

"You want to explain that?" Janeway looked at him sharply.

The officer reversed the video, zooming in the view until they were looking at one of Seven's attackers up close. "You see that emblem?" He paused the video and pointed at his chest. There were three red crescents there, forming a triangle. "They are The Mark."

"The Mark?"

"The Mark of the Kil'Jaeden. Warriors… mercenaries. They do not take hostages. If they have her, you will not see her again. The best you can do is to go home now, before you share her fate."

"We can't do that." Janeway growled.

"Then you have my sympathies. I am sorry, Tuvok. The MCSF cannot help you with this."

"I understand." He nodded at the man and rose to leave. "Thank you for the assistance you were able to provide."

Once outside, Janeway threw her hands up in anger. "I can't believe he expects us to just walk away."

"I have heard of The Mark, Captain." Tuvok led them through the winding passageways. "They are not to be trifled with. They are deadly."

"So what are you saying, Tuvok?" B'Elanna grabbed him by the arm. "That that's it?"

"Of course not. I was merely explaining why the MCSF will not get involved. I believe our most logical course of action is our original one. We will escort the Captain back to the ship and then return to the entertainment sector. We may be able to find someone there who is willing to talk."

"Tuvok." Janeway motioned for them all to move up against the wall as she pointed towards one of the brothels. Coming down the stairs was a member of The Mark. He was swaying slightly as he headed into a back alley to relive himself.

"My god!" B'Elanna breathed. "They're huge!"

"This could be our best chance." The Captain motioned for B'Elanna to stand look out as the three of them crept up slowly behind him. When they reached him, Tuvok reached out and pinched the nerves in his neck. They were not an ordinary species, so the pinch did cause the customary unconsciousness, but it did cause him to fall limply to the ground, where he stared up at them belligerently. Leaning in close, Tuvok splayed his fingers and placed them on his face.

"My mind to your mind, my thoughts to your thoughts." He repeated the chant several times before finally closing his eyes and going silent. They could see the strain in his face from the contact. After several minutes, Tuvok opened his eyes again. He stared at the creature for several long seconds before flexing his fingers slightly. The huge figure slumped to the ground, a thick trail of white foam leaking from between his jaws.

"Tuvok?" Janeway looked at him in horror.

"There is no time. We must return to the ship."

They gathered up B'Elanna and rushed back to the Venture. As soon as they were all on board, Tuvok barked at Tom, "Get us in the air. Now."

Janeway grabbed his arm and spun him around. "What did you do?"

He looked at her impassively. "What I had to." He looked at each of the crew in turn. "These are not people that can be bargained with. There is no amount of money that will buy Seven back. They have no interest in negotiations. If we are going to get her back, we are going to have to cut our way in, and fight our way out. It will get very dirty, very quickly and you had all better be prepared to face that fact, now."

"What did you see?" The fear was back, tying her stomach up in knots.

"They want Seven to assimilate them into a small collective, much as she did with the other three Borg survivors when her sphere crashed in the Delta Quadrant."

"What?" B'Elanna looked at him in shock. "Why?"

"They are mercenaries. They live only to fight for the highest bidder. Wars have been won and lost simply based on which side they fought for. Their only goal is to create the perfect war machine. They believe Seven can do that by creating their collective. If she refuses, they plan to take her apart and use her Borg technology as a template to try and perfect themselves. They will not listen to reason and they will not release her."

"At this point it doesn't matter whether she would agree with them or not." The Doctor spoke up. "Seven hasn't regenerated in over a week. She won't have the strength to create the nanoprobes necessary to do what they ask. When they discover that…"

"It will leave them with only the alternative." Tuvok pulled up a star chart. "They have her here, on this moon, Lirnis Two. It is their base of operations If we travel at maximum warp, we will reach the moon in six hours. I suggest you all return to your cabins and rest. This will not be an easy task." Without another word, he left the bridge.

Janeway looked at Tom. "You heard him, Mr. Paris. Maximum warp. Get us there fast. I'll be in my quarters."

"Aye, Captain."

When she reached her cabin, she sealed the doors and ordered a straight whiskey from the replicator. Falling heavily onto her couch, she pulled out a PADD that she had brought with her, activating it as she downed the amber liquid.

"Kathryn." Seven practically purred. "I wanted to let you know that I accept your invitation. I have begun to make travel arrangements and will inform the Commander of my impending absence when he returns this morning. I have found your answers very gratifying and… pleasing… in a way I did not wholly expect. I look forward to the conversations we will have when I arrive. I expect to be there by the day after tomorrow. Will that give you enough time to…" Seven looked off screen as though something had startled her. "I am sorry, Kathryn. I have to go. I will send you another missive shortly."

Janeway cried out in frustration and threw the PADD against the wall, watching as it shattered into pieces from the impact. Dropping her head into her hands, she began to weep.

Why now? After everything we went through in the Delta Quadrant, to make it home safely, just to lose her now?

"NO!" She straightened her back and brushed her hand furiously across her eyes. "No. Not today. And not like this. I won't allow it."

Curling up with her legs beneath her, she willed herself to sleep.


Chapter Three: Hell Hath No Fury

"Paris to Janeway."

The Captain blinked and looked around. She was still curled up on the couch. Groaning, she stretched her sore leg muscles. "Go ahead, Tom."

"We're fifteen minutes out."

"Understood. On my way."

They all converged on the bridge, watching as the moon came into view.

"Can you get a transporter lock on her, Tom?"

"Sorry, Captain. The security grid they have over the compound is throwing up too much interference. You're going to have to go in and set up an enhancement field."

"All right, what's our best plan of attack?" She asked.

Tuvok dialed in the sensors, bringing the compound into view. "She's being held here, in the main building. We can transport down here, in this small crater off to the left. If we plant remote charges by each of the four outer lying buildings, we should be able to draw a good portion of their security forces away. After that, it is just a matter of fighting our way in."

"Tom, I need you here. Keep the ship out of sight and have an escape route ready to go as soon as we're back on board. Chakotay, you're on tactical. Doctor, get your med station set up, she's going to need it. Tuvok, B'Elanna, you're with me. Let's do it."

Chakotay stepped away from his station and looked at her grimly. "I'm going with you."

Janeway froze. Slowly, she turned to look him in the eyes. "You're staying here. I need you on tactical."

"I don't give a damn what you need. You don't give me orders anymore and I am telling you, I'm going down to that base whether you like it or not."

She walked towards him, stopping a foot from where he stood. Her voice was low, deadly. "This is not about your ego, Chakotay. This is not about assuaging your guilt over whatever happened between you and Seven. This is about getting her back. Those… whatever they are, down there are planning to dissect her, to take her apart and use her like some kind of a blueprint for a war machine. I am not going to let that happened and I am certainly not going to waste whatever precious time we have left to save her by standing here and arguing with you. You WILL stay at tactical, or you WILL be confined to your quarters for the rest of this mission and if you think I can't do it, then you go ahead and try me…. Please."

Chakotay stared into her eyes for a few moments longer before he blinked and dropped them to the floor. "You just want to be the one riding in on the white horse."

Janeway eyed him with disdain. "And you're the one making yourself look like a part of that horse's anatomy." She turned to Tuvok and B'Elanna. "Let's go."

The three of them went to the storage lockers, pulling out short phaser rifles and combat daggers, as well as hand phasers and explosive charges, all of which they attached to the harnesses they had strapped across their chests. B'Elanna grabbed the long, thin case which held the transport enhancers and they returned to the bridge.

"Three to beam down, Mr. Paris. Energize."

They rematerialized on the surface, taking several moments to assess their surroundings before running towards the nearest building. Tuvok held his hand out flat and all three of them hit the ground as a lone Mark guard came around the corner, walking slowly across outer perimeter. He signaled to them to remain still as he crept up behind him, staying low to the ground and hidden by the shadows. Quietly, he jumped to his feet and wrapped his hands around the guard's head, grabbing him by the tusks. Tuvok jerked forcibly to the right. A distinct crack and a low grunt was the only sound as the body slumped lifelessly from his grasp.

Tuvok held his hand out in a fist and they scrambled to his side. Janeway set a charge at the base of the building and they moved on. In the alleyway between them and the next building, two guards stood, talking quietly to each other. B'Elanna grabbed up her phaser rifle but the Captain put her hand on it pushing it down and shaking her head. The Klingon understood. It would make too much noise. Instead, she looked around at the ground. Finding a large rock she picked it up as Tuvok and Janeway pulled the daggers from their vests She threw it away from them, across the alleyway where it thudded loudly. The guards ran around the corner, their weapons drawn and the three of them moved forward silently. Catching them by surprised, the cold steel of their weapons sliced cleaning through thick, muscled necks, sending twin sprays of blood up against the wall. They caught the bodies and lowered them gently to the ground. B'Elanna set her charge quickly and they kept moving

The third building was unguarded, but there was the distinct sound of many voices emanating from inside. It was either a meeting hall or a mess hall. Not wasting time, they set the third charge and headed for the last building between themselves and their target. As they moved around the corner, they came face to face with one of the creatures. It grunted in surprise and Janeway pressed the muzzle of her rifle into its midsection, using its own body to muffle the sound of the blast.

B'Elanna raised her eyebrows and gave her a look of respect. They set the last charge and moved further up the wall. Peering around the corner, Janeway counted no less than twenty guards milling about the courtyard. She pulled the remote detonator from her vest and held it up. The other two nodded and she pressed the button.

They heard the charges begin to detonate behind them and a restrained chaos ensued as the security details left their posts, running for the damaged buildings as they spun in circles, watching all sides for signs of the invading force.

The Captain led the three of them up to the main doors. Pushing it open, she was rushed by two huge guards who had been waiting just inside. B'Elanna was knocked to the floor as one of them grabbed Janeway around the throat, lifting her up off the ground as he began to squeeze the life out of her. She felt her bones begin to crack and quickly grabbed her dagger, slicing it through the tendons in his wrist until he dropped her. The creature cried out in pain and she silenced him by sinking the blade into the soft flesh below its jaw. Glancing back, she saw the other creature had Tuvok in a bear hug, trying to break his back with the strong arms wrapped around his waist. B'Elanna scrambled up and slid her blade in between the plates of his armor. Stepping back, she kicked out with all her strength, burying the blade completely into the creature's chest. It gurgled quietly as blood filled its lungs and let go of the Vulcan, thudding backwards heavily onto the floor.

Tuvok took in large gulps of air as B'Elanna pulled out a tricorder and scanned the area for Seven's bio signature.

"That way." She pointed up the hall to the left.

They crept slowly towards the source of the signal, watching for any sign of movement from the hallways that branched off. Bursting through the medbay doors in unison, all three of them brought their rifles up, intending to cut down Kiir, who was standing over Seven's unconscious body with a scalpel in his hand. The large creature was more agile than its body size would seem to permit however and it rolled quickly to the side, jumping to its feet to rush towards them. It raised its arm and brought the scalpel slashing down across the Klingon's chest. B'Elanna bent her torso backwards, escaping the full force of the blow but sustaining a long, wicked looking gash from her shoulder to the bottom of her ribcage as the sharp implement sliced through her vest like it was tissue paper.

Tuvok grabbed its wrist and pulled the creature away, only to grunt in pain as a large, meaty hand closed on one of his ears. The creature pulled hard and top of his ear tore away to hang limply to one side. The green blood was slick and Kiir's hand lost its grip. Using the opening, Tuvok pulled a grenade from his vest. He tapped the top of it quickly, setting it to auto detonate and shoved it beneath the creatures armor, using one power kick to propel the larger mass away from him. The charge went off, spraying them all with small bits of matter and bone.

"So much for being quiet." B'Elanna remarked. "Help me with this." All three of them grabbed hold of a large shelving unit and slid it in front of the med bay doors.

Janeway slung her rifle across her back and ran to Seven's side, feeling her neck for a pulse while B'Elanna picked up the case that had fallen to the floor during the skirmish. Flipping it open, she quickly pulled out the signal enhancers, handing one to Tuvok and placing the other two into position herself.


"She's alive… barely."

"Glad to hear it. Now we gotta get out of here!" She grabbed the communicator from her belt. "NOW TOM!"

They turned as the shelving unit came crashing down and the doors flew open, admitting a multitude of The Mark, all of them armed to the teeth. Janeway closed her eyes as they began to fire, feeling a warmth spread through her side as the familiar tingle of the transporter scrambled her atoms, and then she felt nothing.


She slowly opened her eyes, aware that she was lying on the floor next to Seven. There was a horrendous pain in her abdomen.

"Do we have them?" Tom shouted.

"All here and accounted for. Get us out of here, Tom!" B'Elanna called back before she rushed for the bridge.

"I'm on it!"

Janeway tried to stand, only to be pushed back down by the Doctor. "Lie still." He hissed. "You have a damaged larynx and you took a phaser shot to your side."

"Don't worry about me. Take care of Seven!" She rasped.

"I intend to take care of you both." He injected her with a hypospray and then used a deep tissue regenerator to repair the damage to her throat and organs, then a bone knitter to reconnect the ribs that had separated on impact. Finally he shot her full of antibiotics and pain suppressors. "Now, you can get up. I need you and Tuvok to help me get Seven to her alcove."

The three of them lifted the still unconscious Borg and carried her bodily to Janeway's cabin. Once there, they leaned her up until her nodes connected and the alcove began to hum. The Captain looked at her longingly, taking in the overly pale complexion, feeling it like a blow to her midsection. "Doctor?" She whispered.

"Get up to the bridge." He said, not unkindly. "You can't do anything here and from what I understand, your going to be needed there to make sure we still get out of this in one piece."

She glanced at Seven one last time and then sprinted for the bridge. "Report!" She snapped as soon as she arrived.

"We've got three Mark warships hot on our tail." Tom's hands were flying across the controls, maneuvering the transport wildly to avoid the phaser shots that were arcing all around them. "Tuvok, get on tactical! Target their weapon arrays and fire!"

Their phasers cut through the space between them and their pursuers, slamming into their shields with no affect.

"Their shields are holding, Captain!"

"I've got an idea." Tom called out. "I recommend you hang onto something!"

He pulled the ship's nose upwards and hit the thrusters, sending the Venture into a tall loop. When they came down on the other side they were in between the two rear ships. One of the ships fired on them and he reversed thrusters quickly. The Venture shuddered as it came to a stop momentarily, shaking its occupants like rag dolls. The phaser beam missed them, cutting through the shields of their own ship easily. The damaged Mark vessel listed slowly to the side, on fire and disabled.

"Arm photon torpedoes! Full spread! Fire!"

She watched as two of the torpedoes hit their mark, tearing the hull of the aft ship efficiently.

"Target the opening and fire!" Janeway barked.

The phaser beam tore into the hull breach and the Mark vessel was sent spinning away from them, tumbling end over end.

That left only the vessel directly ahead of them. It was trying to come about but its size made its movements slow and unwieldy.

"Torpedoes, phasers! Hit them with everything we've got, now!"

The full force of three photon torpedoes was more than the ship could handle. The side of the vessel split open and Tuvok blasted into the opening causing their engine core to overload. Janeway watched with grim satisfaction as the warship exploded, spewing wreckage out into space.

"Get us out of here, Tom!" She held on to the rail, trying to keep herself erect.

"Warp engines are offline!" He engaged the thrusters and moved them away as fast as he could.

She took a deep breath. "Report."

"The other two ships are disabled and are not pursuing." Tuvok said calmly. "However, I do not believe that will be the last we will see of them. It is imperative that we find a safe harbor to repair our warp engines before they return."

"Agreed. Any suggestions?"

"There's an asteroid field a hundred thousand kilometers to port." Chakotay finally spoke up. "Several of the asteroids are porous, with openings large enough to hide the ship. There are faint traces of thoron radiation. If we power down all non-essential systems, it should mask our signature long enough to make repairs."

"Do it." She lowered herself into her seat, holding her side and breathing heavily. "Nice move, Tom. We're going to have to put that one in the manual."

Tom grinned at her as he flew them into the asteroid belt, finding a large chunk of rock with an opening hidden in the bottom. He settled the Venture carefully before cutting the power. "We're down."

Janeway nodded. "B'Elanna, get busy on those engines. Tuvok, check our shields and put out a repeating distress signal to any Federation ships in the area. Chakotay, do a thorough once over on our weapon systems. If we have to fight our way out of this asteroid field I don't want to run into any surprises. What's the time frame on repairs?"

"The damage is extensive." Tuvok replied. "Twelve hours minimum."

Janeway nodded. "Tom…" She started to sway slightly as the pain began to over power the medication the Doctor had given her.

"Captain!" Tom jumped to her side and steadied her. "Why don't you go and rest. We've got this."

She started to argue but another wave of pain hit her, leaving her feeling nauseous.

"We've got this." Tom repeated. "Go. Seven needs you."

Janeway looked at him sharply before nodding. "I recommend that you do not play that card too often, Mr. Paris."

"Wouldn't dream of it ma'am." He grinned at her look of surprise. "I believe this would qualify as 'crunch time'."

Janeway laughed softly as she headed off the bridge, aware of the angry gaze that was leveled at her from Chakotay's station. She did not look back.

The Captain limped into her quarters, not stopping until she entered the bedroom where she found the Doctor sitting quietly on her bed, staring up at Seven.

"Doctor?" She tried to keep the fear from her voice but knew she had failed.

He turned to face her. "I've stabilized her vital signs and repaired the damage done to her body. She needs to regenerate for at least eight hours and then take it easy for a few days, but she's going to be all right."

Janeway felt the tension leave her body and with it, most of her strength. The Doctor grabbed her arm and helped her to the bed. He went to her closet and pulled out a nightgown, laying it across her lap. "I recommend that you also regenerate for at least eight hours." He smiled. "Can I get you anything before I go check on the rest of our merry band of pirates?"


"I don't think so." He went to replicator and came back with a pitcher of water and a glass. "Drink as much of this as you can. Your body needs it. I'll leave a hypospray for the pain if it gets bad. Sleep well, Captain."


He turned back to look at her.

"Call me Kathryn." She smiled weakly.

"Sleep well…Kathryn."

When he had gone, she set the security seal on her door and changed into her nightgown before passing out.

She awoke several hours later feeling as though she had swallowed broken glass. Grabbing the hypospray from the table next to the bed, she pressed it to her neck and grimaced as the medicine hissed into her bloodstream. The pain subsided almost immediately. Sighing, she leaned back against the headboard and gazed over at Seven.

The Borg still looked pale, her body seemed much thinner than it should be and her hands trembled slightly, but she was alive. Alive and so very, very beautiful. Smiling, Janeway propped a pillow behind her back and engaged in her most secret and pleasurable vice.

Watching Seven regenerate.

"Regeneration cycle complete."

Seven opened her eyes, a small smile curling the edges of her mouth when she saw the Captain watching her from a reclined position on the bed. "Kathryn. You came for me. They said you would not. But you are here… watching me."

Janeway flushed. "Yes I am. I'm sorry. Quarters are limited on The Venture. It was either install your alcove here, or in Chakotay's cabin."

"Do not be sorry." Seven stepped down from the dais slowly, lowering herself carefully onto the edge of the mattress. "One of the things I missed the most about being on Voyager was that you watched me while I regenerated."

The Captain's eyes went wide in shock. "You knew?"

"Yes, I always knew."

"I'm so sorry, Seven. I didn't mean to invade your privacy."

"You did not invade my privacy." The Borg assured her. "I found that having you watch over me was… comforting."

Nonplussed, Janeway nodded slowly, trying to find some way to categorize this new piece of information and failing miserably. "How do you feel?"

Seven leaned her head to one side and thought about the question. "I am functioning reasonably well considering what has transpired. I feel weary, but that will pass."

Reaching out to touch Seven's arm, Janeway asked. "Will you tell me what happened?"

Seven took in her tousled appearance, the adorable way her hair stuck up slightly in the back then she glanced around at the unmade bed and the small hand on her arm. A slight blush crept into her cheeks. "Yes. But not here."

The older woman nodded. Standing, she pulled a robe over her nightgown and took Seven by the hand, leading her to the couch. She then went to the replicator. "Whiskey and soda." She ordered. "Can I get you anything?"

The Borg thought about it for a moment. "Yes please, something with alcohol in it, to help me relax."

Janeway's eyebrows rose at the request but she ordered her a glass of white wine and then joined her on the couch. "Tell me what happened. Why did you leave Chakotay?"

Seven sighed softly, sipping her wine. "Our relationship was agreeable at first. His attention was very comfortable. His concern for my well being was sincere and his tentative touches pleasant. But as time passed, I found myself no more willing to give in to his advances than I had been upon our initial involvement. I thought that my feelings would grow over time, that they would mature in way that would allow me to accept him as a sexual partner. But that did not happen. After a while, his touch began to irritate me. His unceasing pursuit of me for copulation and marriage began to try my patience."


The young woman looked at her, slightly embarrassed. "It was his hands."

"His hands?"

Seven nodded. "They are too large, too rough. Before Chakotay the only other person that had ever touched me… was you. His touch was so unlike yours. It made me feel as though I was being restrained… trapped. His fingers would wander across my body uninvited and my irritation turned to revulsion. He saw it too, recognized when my feelings changed, and he became angry. We fought all the time, throwing words back and forth at each for no other reason than to cause pain, our comments becoming more acrimonious and heated until finally, he said something so callous that I could not allow it to pass unchallenged."

"What did he say?" Janeway pressed, her voice dangerously low, feeling her ire rise at the way Seven had been treated.

"He said that he knew why I would not allow him to make love to me. He said he was aware of the unnatural hold you had over me. That it was unhealthy and obsessive."

The Captain swallowed back the bile in her throat.

"He said that I was being foolish, romanticizing you like some lovesick cadet. That I was just a project to keep you busy while we were lost in the Delta Quadrant. That you had never loved me and you never would. That I was just some trophy you wanted on your arm… and that I would never be more to you than the 'Captain's whore.'" She took a large drink from her glass, flushing slightly. "I told him that I would rather be your whore than his wife. That was when he struck me."

Janeway jumped to her feet, her temper flashing beyond her control. "HE DID WHAT?"

"Sit down, Kathryn." She said softly, waiting as she slowly complied before continuing. "He struck me with the flat of his palm against my cheek. As soon as he realized what he had done, his tone changed. He became apologetic, he said that he was horrified that he had done such a thing. But as I stood there, feeling the sting his hand had left on my skin, I knew that any fondness I had felt for him was lost. I told him I needed some time alone and he acquiesced. Once I knew that he had gone, I gathered my things. I went to the closest space port and bought a small shuttle. I knew it was not large enough to get me all the way back to Earth in one trip, but I thought that I could stop at Mars along the way to refuel. That was where members of The Mark were waiting for me. They must have been following my movements for a very long time. They took me outside of a shop on the main bazaar. There were too many of them to fight, I knew that I would sustain too much damage if I tried. So I went with them, assuming that I could bide my time and find a way to escape. They took me to Lirnis Two, where I remained until you came for me."

"I'm so sorry, Seven." She moved closer to the Borg and wrapped her arms around her in a tight, protective embrace. "I wish you had contacted me. I would have sent an escort for you."

"There is nothing for you to be sorry for. I made a rash decision. My only thought was to be gone before he returned. I meant to contact you once I had arrived on Mars, but I was taken before I could send you a message."

Pulling back to look at her closely, Janeway asked, "Why didn't you tell me things had gotten so bad for you with Chakotay?"

Seven looked at her for a long time before speaking. "I wanted to know that you truly wanted me with you. I did not want to feel as though you were only trying to protect me. When I told you of my decision to return with him to his home world, you appeared happy. I thought it was what you wanted for me."

"Oh, Seven, for that I am truly, deeply sorry. I wanted to tell you not to go… to ask you to come with me but I thought you had made your choice and I didn't want to make it any harder on you."

"So we are back to discussing the things that you never said?"

Janeway blinked, startled by the quick change of topic. "I guess we are."

Seven gazed directly into the Captain's eyes, pinning her with a look of such longing that made her chest constrict painfully. "Tell me what else you never said."

Janeway laughed nervously and looked around the small cramped quarters. "This isn't exactly the place I had in mind to have this conversation."

"Perhaps not, but I think we have both waited long enough to hear it." She placed her hand against Janeway's cheek. "What am I to you, Kathryn?"

The older woman leaned into her touch. "Everything." She breathed.

Seven closed the space between them, bringing her lips to Janeway's in a slow, gentle kiss that made the hair on her arms stand up. It was tentative at first, light featherlike touches that deepened as she opened her mouth, allowing the Captain's tongue to slide inside and play gently with her own. When she pulled away, they both sat silently for several moments, looking at each other with mildly stunned expressions on their faces,

"Oh my" Was all Janeway could say.

"I concur." Seven said softly, leaning in for another kiss.

"Paris to Janeway."

The Captain groaned. She placed her fingers against Seven's mouth, holding her still. "Go ahead."

"I think you'd better come up here."

Janeway sighed heavily. "On my way." She leaned forward and gave Seven a brief kiss. "To be continued."

The Borg smiled at her. It was a gloriously sensual smile that made the older woman want to climb onto her lap and finish what they had started, everything else be damned. Grumbling to herself, she changed her clothes and rushed for the door. "Stay here. You need to rest. Try to eat something if you can."

"Yes, Kathryn."

With a growl of frustration, she ran out the door.


Chapter Four: A Good Day To Die

"Report!" She barked as she walked onto the bridge.

Tuvok turned to her. "We have six Mark warships on long range sensors."

"Time to intercept?"

"Two hours."

She cursed quietly under her breath. "B'Elanna. How are we doing on repairs?"

"I'm working on it, Captain."

"You have ninety minutes." She bit the inside of her cheek as she heard the Klingon say something vaguely obscene. "What was that?"

"Uh, nothing, Captain. Ninety minutes, gotcha."

"Tom," Janeway went to stand beside him. "Any ideas on a way out of this?"

"Without warp?" He scanned the area. "No class M planets, no inhabitable moons except Lirnis Two and I don't think anyone wants to go back there. It's no wonder they picked this area for their base. There's no place for anyone else to hide."

The Captain nodded. "Tuvok. How many torpedoes do we have left?"

"Five, Captain."

She frowned. "That's not going to get us very far. Any way to strengthen the phasers? Any ideas on how to cut through their shields?"

"We can try setting the phaser banks on a rotating modulation until we hit on one that actually works." The Vulcan suggested.

"Do it." She looked over at Chakotay who had remained silent. "How about you? Any thoughts?"

"It's your show, Captain." He said sullenly. "I'm just waiting for orders."

She didn't roll her eyes, but it was a very close thing.

"Hey!" B'Elanna called from down below. "I could use a phase spanner and a little help."

"On my way." Janeway headed to the aft of the ship to grab the spanner, aware instantly that Chakotay had fallen into step behind her.

"I want to see her."

She did not stop walking. "No."

He reached out and grabbed her arm, spinning her around. "You can't keep her locked up in your cabin! I have the right to see her!"

Janeway moved towards him, the anger in her features such a palpable force that he took an involuntary step back, colliding with the bulkhead behind him. She stared at him with eyes full of fury. "I don't give a damn what you think your rights are. You forfeited any you might have had when you laid your hands on her in anger."

Chakotay paled visibly. "I need to explain to her…"

"Explain what?" She gave her anger free reign. "That the man who was supposed to love her, protect her, and cherish her could allow himself to cause her harm? That a little anger and frustration is all it takes to make you lose control? I don't know what happened to you Chakotay. Something inside you changed the last year we were out there. I once thought of you as a friend… my best friend, my trusted advisor. But somewhere along the way you turned into something else, someone else. You disobeyed orders, you spread dissension; you went against the chain of command that you had sworn to uphold. And now this. Where is the gentle, spiritual man I used to know? Did he die out there in the Delta Quadrant? Because he certainly isn't here now."

Turning her back on him, Janeway grabbed up the spanner and headed to the engine room. When she got there, she crawled down on the floor next to B'Elanna and helped her remove a fused relay.

"Do you think that did any good?" The Klingon whispered.

"Damn small ship."

"I didn't mean to listen in. But you have the kind of voice that carries, Captain, even in a whisper." She turned her head to look at her commanding officer. "For what it's worth, I agree with you. He stopped being someone I recognized a long time ago."

They worked in silence, both of them doing their best, but as the minutes ticked away, she knew they would never finish in time.

"C'mon." She patted the Klingon on the arm.

They both returned to the bridge. Janeway shook her head at Tuvok's questioning glance. "We're going to have to do this the hard way. Power us up, Tom. Shields to maximum."

The helmsman guided the transport out of the asteroid field and back into open space. All of them stood and watched as the six warships appeared on screen.

"Evasive pattern delta, Mr. Paris. All hands to battle stations." They each took up their positions and waited.

The doors to the bridge slid open and Janeway turned in surprised to see Seven walk in. She was dressed in her blue biosuit. "You should be resting." She growled.

"I am needed here, Captain." Not waiting for her to answer, the Borg took her station at the sensor console.

The Captain shook her head but there was no more time for debate as the lead warship began to fire, one of the phaser beams striking them hard across the nose.

"Shields down to eighty two percent." Tuvok commented.

"Target their weapons. Return fire!"

Their phasers shot out short, controlled bursts, flipping through various configurations before one sliced through the enemies shields, causing an explosion along their outer hull.

"That's the one!" Janeway leaned forward.

They traded fire back and forth as the Venture dodged between the ships. Tom tried every evasive pattern he knew, keeping just seconds ahead of the Mark's targeting computers. Finally, his luck ran out as another beam intersected with their port nacelle.

"Direct hit." Tuvok's hands glided over his controls. "Shields down to fifty one percent."

"Tom, get us in between the two ships to port. Tuvok, can you slice a hole big enough for us to get two torpedoes through it?"

"I will try."

As the warship closed in on them, he released a long phaser pulse. Their hull ruptured and he launched twin torpedoes directly into the opening.

"Get us out from between them, Tom!"

The helmsman gunned the thrusters, pushing the transport through the opening as the side of the warship blew outwards. It lurched violently, directly into the path of the second ship. They both crumpled, exploding brilliantly across the space behind them.

"Two down, three to go." Janeway gritted her teeth as Tom spun the ship around. The other warships had already come about and one of them hit them head on with a torpedo. The Venture swayed sluggishly to one side.

"Shields are down, Captain!" Tuvok jumped away from his console as it blew outward, showering the back wall with hunks of metal and sparks.

"Impulse engines and thrusters are offline." Tom shouted over the noise.

"Sensors are down as well, Captain." Seven looked up, watching as the three remaining warships fanned out to circle them. "They are hailing."

"Onscreen." Janeway said quietly.

One of the Mark appeared. "You're weapons and shields have been destroyed. You will prepare to be boarded." He cut communication.

Seven stepped down from her station and came to stand behind Kathryn. Silently she took her hand.

Janeway linked her fingers with Seven's and looked over at Tom. She nodded once.

He looked back at his wife, giving her a tender smile before turning his attention back to his console. "Initiating self destruct sequence."

"Well," B'Elanna said quietly. "Looks like today-"

Janeway cut her off. "Don't say it, Lieutenant."

Suddenly, a spread of six photon torpedoes sped past them; they connected with the lead Mark ship and it exploded, rocking them violently to one side. Twin phaser beams cut through the air, connecting with the remaining two ships. The strength of the lasers cut easily through the hulls, depressurizing them, causing them to implode.

Janeway blinked in confusion. "What the hell?"

She felt a huge presence pass over them, the sound of the engines loud in the silence. A moment later, a large saucer shape appeared on the view screen and she read the call numbers emblazoned on its side as her shoulders slumped in relief. NCC-1701-D.

The USS Enterprise hung in front of them like some beautiful jewel.

"They are hailing." Tuvok said quietly.

"On screen."

Janeway smiled crookedly as the bridge of the Enterprise appeared before them, its Captain leaning forward slightly in his command chair to smile at her.

"Admiral." Picard nodded. "You're a long way from Starfleet Headquarters. Last I heard you took a desk job."

She smiled. "This isn't exactly a Starfleet Mission, Jean Luc. A member of our family ended up lost out here. We just came to collect her."

He glanced at Seven, who was still standing behind her holding her hand and smiled. "It seems you have."

"With a little help from you. I don't know how to thank you. You have impeccable timing."

"From the condition of your ship I would say my timing could have been a little better." The enigmatic man grinned. "As for how to thank me, I am fairly certain a bottle of Hennessey Ellipse would do the trick."

The Captain swallowed, thinking of the prized bottle her father had left her which she kept hidden in her San Francisco townhouse. "I can probably scrounge up a bottle of that somewhere."

"Good." Picard sat back. "We can crack it open and you can tell me all about your little adventure. I'm also looking forward to hearing all the stories of your trip through the Delta Quadrant. All those fascinating details that Starfleet likes to keep to themselves."

"Of course."

"Very well then, as your ship is too large to tractor aboard, I will assume you would like us to maintain position here while you handle repairs. Let us know when you're ready and we'll escort you back to Earth."

"Sounds good to me. Janeway out."

The screen went dark and she slid into her chair, smiling at the people around her.

"You have more luck than any single person should be entitled to." B'Elanna mumbled.

"I concur." Seven squeezed her hand one last time and went to check the sensor array.

Janeway went to stand beside Tom. "How bad is it?"

"Pretty bad. Dad's gonna have a fit."

She laughed, but it was cut short by the heated words behind her. She turned to see the Chakotay had taken Seven by the arms and was trying to talk to her.

"Remove your hands from me." Seven said calmly.

She stepped forward to intercede but Tom grabbed her arm and held her still. "They have to settle it." He said quietly.

Chakotay tightened his grip, keeping her from moving away.

"I said remove your hands from me. I will not tell you again."

"Seven, you have to let me explain. You owe me that much."

The Borg's eyes went even colder, turning into hard bits of blue glass as she stared at him in distaste. "There is only one thing that I 'owe' you."

Janeway realized her intent a moment too late. She could only watch as Seven pulled back her Borg enhanced left arm and swung on him. It was powerful roundhouse punch that connected solidly with Chakotay's cheek. The force of it propelled him backwards where he slammed into the tactical display before sliding slowly to the ground.

The Doctor rushed to his side. Pulling out a medical tricorder, he passed it over the prone man's body. "Crushed cheekbone, dislocated jaw, medium concussion." He sighed and closed the instrument. "Tuvok, Tom, could you help me carry Mr. Chakotay to his cabin?"

They went to help him as Janeway approached Seven, who was standing gracefully, shaking her hand to loosen the stiffness. She took the hand in her own; checking to make sure nothing was broken. "Seven," She said quietly. "I don't think that was very helpful."

The Borg looked at her, one eyebrow raised. "Perhaps not, but it was enjoyable."

The Captain sighed. "Go back to my quarters and wait for me there. Try and rest. I'll be there as soon as I can."

Seven nodded and left the bridge as Janeway followed the others to Chakotay's cabin. They had him laid out on the bed as the Doctor worked on him.

"Is he going to be all right?"

"Hmm? Oh yes, he'll be fine." He repaired the broken cheekbone and reset the jaw before working on the bruise to the back of his head. "He'll have a headache for a few hours, but he should count himself lucky. Seven has quite a left hook!"

He pressed a hypospray to Chakotay's neck and the man woke, looking around groggily.

"What happened?"

"I believe," The Captain grabbed his arm and pulled him into a sitting position. "That Seven has heard your position on this subject and informed you of her own."

His eyes grew hard. "I want to bring her up on charges."

"To who?" She gave him a crooked smile. "This isn't a Starfleet mission and neither you nor Seven are members of my crew."

"Then I'll file charges with the civilian police!" He blustered.

"For what?" The Doctor smiled at him. "You're as healthy as a horse's ass. Can't find a single thing wrong with you." He patted the man on the back and then moved away, humming under his breath.

"I think it would be best if you remained in your cabin for the rest of the trip, Chakotay. Get some rest."

She nodded to the other two and they left. Outside, Tuvok encrypted his door lock, preventing him from leaving.

Back on the bridge, she was informed that it would take at least four hours of repairs before they were again flight ready. But with the large starship watching over them, it didn't concern her all that much.

"I'll be in my Quarters. Inform me when we're good to go." She stopped and smiled at her crew. "Thank you all."

She headed down the corridor, wondering what she was going to say to Seven about her behavior, but as she keyed the door and entered, all her thoughts of chastisement fled.

Seven of Nine was stretched out on the couch, her neck and shoulders propped up on a pillow, her white gold mane hanging gently around her face She was wearing a white silk pajama top and nothing else, her long golden legs stretched out before her.

Janeway felt her mouth go dry and her palms get moist as Seven raised one eyebrow and smiled at her, sliding her legs apart slightly. She pulled her sweater and bra over her head before kicking off her boots and sliding off her trousers and briefs. Naked, she joined Seven on the couch, sliding one knee between her legs and moving it up until it was nestled between the Borg's thighs. She then placed her hands on either side of Seven's abdomen as she leaned in and kissed her, hard.

The Borg's hands tangled into her auburn locks, pulling her head down, matching Janeway's passion with her own. The kiss went on for several minutes as tongues tangled and teeth nipped playfully.

The Captain moaned slightly when she realized that Seven's hips had begun to move, sliding her sex up and down her thigh. At first it was a smooth, soft friction, then she felt a warm, wet trail being left in its wake and she growled, pressing into her firmly.

Seven groaned into her lips, her breath coming in short pants. She closed her eyes and whispered, "Put your hands on me, Kathryn."

Janeway sat back slightly. Starting at the bottom, she slowly opened the shirt one button at a time, watching as the Borg shivered in anticipation. She finally opened the shirt fully, pushing it to the side as she laid her hands one the younger woman's smooth, flat stomach.

Seven shook at the touch, the feeling of those long elegant fingers stroking at her skin.

The older woman smiled, allowing her fingers to gently crawl up her lover's abdomen, feeling the soft metal of her implant under her fingers until her hands rose high enough to cup the full, heaving breasts.

Seven arched her back, pushing up into her as Kathryn sucked on her neck, biting it gently, her fingers finding their way to rosy nipples that were already swollen and hard.

"Oh, Kathryn, yes!" Seven moaned. "Touch me…"

The Captain smiled, replacing one of her hands with her mouth, drawing the nipple in to roll her tongue around it, biting down on it gently as the Borg's whimpered uncontrollably. Her free hand caressed Seven's side until the younger woman reached out and grabbed it, guiding it down across her body to bury it between her legs.

Now it was Janeway's turn to groan as her fingers were coated with warm wetness. She played in the moisture, flicking her fingers across the engorged nub of flesh at the top of her cleft before sliding her fingers inside.

Seven's went rigid for a moment, and then she began to move, undulating her hips to keep time with the older woman's thrusts, pushing down hard to draw the fingers further within herself.

The scent of Seven's arousal reached her and Janeway felt her mouth begin to water. Releasing the nipple between her lips, she kissed her way down the glorious body beneath her to bury her nose in the soft downy curls. The taste of Seven was incredible, an intoxicating musk that filled her senses and drove all rational thoughts from her head. She sucked on the engorged nub with abandon, grazing it lightly with her teeth as younger woman whimpered and cooed above her.

"Don't stop touching me… please." Seven whispered and Janeway brought her free hand back to the Borg's aching nipples, moving from one to the other while running her fingers across the skin in between them.

The young woman began to buck beneath her, incoherent sounds escaping from her throat as her pleasure intensified, becoming a jagged electric spike that shot out from between her legs and crashed hard along her spine. "KATHRYN!" She called out loudly as the wave of pleasure broke and she collapsed back against the couch breathing heavily.

Janeway was too far gone to allow her time to recover. She slid up the firm body beneath her to straddle her waist, rubbing herself against the bands of metal wrapped around the Borg's midsection. The feel of the hard metal alternating with soft flesh drove her crazy and she began to push harder, riding Seven with abandon. When the young woman's hands came up to first cup her breasts and then close on her nipples with firm fingers she began to moan, loudly. As her body began to spasm, Seven slid her arms down to cup the older woman's buttocks, using them to pull the smaller woman more firmly against herself. Janeway shuddered as her orgasm broke and liquid fire coursed along her nerve endings. "Oh my god, SEVEN!" She screamed, her voice breaking.

Finally she fell forward, spent and limp into the welcoming arms of her lover.

She lay quietly, noting the slowing movements of the soft breasts beneath her as Seven got her breathing under control.

The Borg reached down and took one of her hands, tracing the fingers with her own before linking them together, even as she continued to rub the center of Janeway's palm with her thumb.

The Captain laughed softly.

"Something amuses you?" Seven asked.

Janeway looked up at her adoringly. "I think you have a hand fetish."

"Fetish?" The Borg raised one eyebrow.

"A sexual fascination with hands."

"You are mistaken, Kathryn," She smiled. "Not with hands. With your hands. I can recall every time you touched me with these hands. The way the feel of them would burn through my biosuit. The way I longed to have them travel across my chest, to tangle in my hair… So soft, so delicate, your long elegant fingers brushing lightly over my skin… I would sit at the other end of the table during staff meetings and imagine how it would feel to slide them into my mouth, to suck on them, to run my tongue over them…"

"Oh my," Janeway swallowed, feeling desire stir within her again.

"I wanted to feel you touch me every where." Seven grinned at her wickedly. "I still do."

"Really?" She returned the smile with one of her own. Rising to her knees she looked down at the Borg. "Lay on your stomach."

Seven's eyes widened but she crawled to her knees to comply. When she turned away, Janeway pushed her forward until she was on all fours, her arms and chest resting against the arm of the couch. Kneeling behind her, she leaned heavily against her and began to scratch her nails down the Borg's back in long, smooth strokes. She did it softly at first, and then with increasing pressure until she was leaving long red marks against the smooth alabaster skin. Seven wiggled slightly in response and the feel of her firm buttocks against Janeway's groin proved more than she could stand. Drawing her right hand back, she entered the Borg from behind, closing her eyes at the feel of satin closing around her fingers, at the sound of startled pleasure that escaped Seven's lips. She closed her left hand on the younger woman's shoulder, pulling her backwards more forcefully to match her thrusts. She let her thumb stray upward, to play at the puckered opening of the woman's other orifice and when the tip of it entered slightly she heard a loud keening wail erupt from her lovers mouth. It rose in volume as she increased her tempo until the Borg shook violently and then lay still.

Janeway removed her fingers gently, laying her body across Seven's back. They rested that way for a few moments until the younger woman abruptly slid out from beneath her and stood. In one, smooth motion she picked the Captain up and carried her to the bedroom.

Seven laid her out on the bed, crawling over her to hold herself up in all fours as she kissed her passionately. She left her lips to trail down the Captain's neck, sucking at her pulse point hard enough to leave a red welt before moving down to her breasts. She took one fat, hardened nipple into her mouth, flicking it with her tongue, biting it gently. Then she moved to the other and gave it the same loving attention. She left her lover's breasts with both reluctance and anticipation, sliding her lips down over the slightly rounded tummy to nuzzle into the dark reddish curls between her legs.

Janeway's thighs fell open and she used her nose to part her folds, breathing in the scent of her eagerly. When she touched the tip of her tongue to the Captain's clit, the older woman bucked slightly and Seven wrapped her arms around her thighs, holding them firmly as she lowered her body onto the bed.

She closed her eyes and suckled the small nub with rapt fascination, feeling Kathryn's fingers tighten almost painfully in her hair. She began to lap at her sex with long strokes until she found a particularly sensitive spot. Then she focused her attention there as her hand came up and she slid two fingers deep inside, moaning slightly as wet velvet closed around them and tightened convulsively. She thrust slowly at first, pulling her hand back until she almost pulled out before gliding it back in. Each thrust was met by the Captain's hips which were undulating wildly under her touch. Speeding up her movements, she heard the older woman begin to grunt softly at each downward thrust and she sped up the tempo of her lips to match, a low vibration pulsing through her vocal cords as she continued her ministrations.

Janeway closed her eyes, losing herself in the passion boiling up within her Each movement of Seven's fingers and tongue pushed her closer to the edge until she was hanging on to the Borg's head and shoulder as though her life depended on it. When young woman raised her other hand and closed her fingers around a swollen, aching nipple, she cried out loudly, singing her passion to the room around her as the pleasure washed over her. "SEVEN… SEVEN…OH DEAR GOD…SEVEN!" Her body went rigid, her hands released their hold as they began to tremble and for one brief moment she felt as though she were floating in an ocean of sensation. Then the wave slowly passed and she collapsed, tears flowing down her cheeks as Seven crawled up beside her and wrapped her up in her arms.

"Shh…Kathryn." The Borg's tongue caught the tears on her face and licked them away. "I am here. I love you."

"Oh, Seven." Janeway hugged the woman to her in a tight embrace. "I love you so much." Then she laughed.

The Borg raised her head to look at her curiously.

"You hum when you eat."

"I most certainly do not." Seven protested.

"I'll record you sometime. You'll see."

They both lay quietly after that, their desire spent, as Janeway trailed her fingers lovingly across Seven's back and shoulders.

"When did you know?" The Borg asked quietly.

She didn't need to ask what she meant, but she did need to think for a moment. "I believe it was right after the situation with the Omega molecule, when I found you in the maestro's chamber, staring up at his flying machine. I called out to you and you turned to look down at me and I felt my heart swell. I felt an emotion that was neither protective nor maternal course through me and settle into my chest. I knew then that I loved you, more than anyone else… ever." She looked up at her beloved's face. "When did you know?"

Seven didn't hesitate. "On Arturis' ship. When we were in the brig and you were adjusting my ocular implant. You said 'You belong with us.' But what I knew in that moment… was that I belonged with you."

They embraced tightly and stayed that way for the next several hours, trading stories back and forth about all the times they almost said or did something to show the other how they felt. Through it all, Janeway ran her hands ceaselessly across Seven's body, memorizing every angle and every curve of the woman she loved so dearly.

"Tuvok to Janeway."

The Captain sighed. "Go ahead."

"Repairs have been completed and we are ready to depart."

"Very well. Hail the Enterprise and let them know. I'll be there shortly. Janeway out."

She took Seven's face between her palms and kissed her gently.

Together they rose and showered, spending several breathless minutes playing joyfully in the soap and water before drying off and getting dressed.

They walked onto the bridge together. Seven moved to take the now unoccupied tactical station as Janeway settled into the command chair.

"Report, Mr. Paris?"

"All systems are go, Captain." His voice sounded somewhat strangled and she noticed that his shoulders were shaking. She glanced back at Tuvok but the Vulcan only raised one eyebrow in response and then shifted his attention to the display before him. Finally she turned and looked at B'Elanna.

The Klingon threw her a cheeky grin and laughed. "Damn small ship."

Admiral Kathryn Janeway blushed to the roots of her hair. Closing her eyes and shaking her head slightly she turned back to the view screen. "Warp six, Mr. Paris. Take us home."

The End

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